There’s no running water in my campground. There’s no water at the trail head parking lot. There’s no running water at the campground next to the parking lot or at the campground twenty miles up the road. There’s not water on this mountain.
I buy my own drinking water when I go to civilization; I pay thirty cents a gallon from a dispenser in front of a grocery store. There’s a big tank of water on my campsite. The company I work for trucks in that water from campgrounds along the river. It’s safe to drink and I am allowed to drink it, but I don’t like the taste, so I only use it for cleaning and putting out campfires.
Tourists are often shocked when I say there’s no water on the mountain.
Many campers aren’t too surprised that there is no water at the campground. It’s not so uncommon for a remote campground to have no potable water. However, almost everyone who visits or stays at my campground wants to know about the tank.What’s in it? I tell them it’s water for cleaning toilets and putting out fires. Then they want to know if they can use some, even just to wash their hands. I have to tell them no. It’s a complicated legal situation when water is provided to the general public, so I’m not allowed to share. Besides, if I let one group have a little to wash their hands, another group will want some to wash their dishes, and pretty soon I’d have none for cleaning toilets and putting out fires.
People at the trail head often seem flabbergasted when we can’t provide them with water.
One day in the parking lot, a woman and her adult daughter were standing a few feet from me. I overheard part of their conversation.
The mother said to the daughter, something something restroom?
The daughter said, not unless something something.
The mother said, well, I’m sure something something.
The mother looked over at me and asked if we had a water faucet. I said, no ma’am.
She said they just needed to wash their hands.
I said, No ma’am. There’s no water here. There’s no water at the campgrounds in the area.
She looked at me with a confused, pained expression on her face. She clearly did not understand how we could not provide for her liquid needs. She looked at me as if I were speaking in a foreign language. Or lying. Or lying in a foreign language.
One day as I was coming out of the parking lot restroom, a man asked me where the water fountain was. I said we didn’t have one, that there was no water. He asked if there was a faucet where he could fill his water bottle. I told him no, repeated that we had no water in the parking lot. He asked if he could get water at the campground next door. I told him the campground had no water. I told him there was no water on the mountain. He said, interesting, but he didn’t seem to believe me. I think he thought I was lying just to be rude.
My co-worker told me on a recent weekend morning a woman rode up to the parking lot on a bicycle. He said she looked tired, hot, and thirsty. She asked him for water. He told her there was not water available in the area. She went from car to car asking people for water. Someone finally gave her two bottles.
Sometimes when people ask me where they can get water, I tell them they can drive fifteen miles to the nearest general store and buy drinking water there. The way folks look at me, I know they’re thinking, you’ve got to be kidding.
I get it. Until I started living in the rural Southwest, it never occurred to me that Americans in the 21st century lived without running water. I thought everyone got their water right from the tap. Turns out it doesn’t always work that way. Lots of people have to haul water for drinking and bathing and washing dishes.
Sometimes when tourists ask about water here, I tell them how once there was water on the mountain, but now there’s not. Weird, isn’t it, I ask them, that one day there could be water and the next day nothing?
It’s a concept city people really should think on.